Not Your Average Prom Queen: “Born This Way” Blog Showcases Gay Kids
Do you have memories of being a tomboy or sneaking into your mother’s closet as a child to try on her heels? We often use these memories to reflect on how “gay” we were growing up, or how we should have recognized the signs earlier. However we also need to recognize that a moment or a lifetime of stereotypical or non-stereotypical behavior does not directly correspond to our sexual orientation.
Liking He-Man did not mean I was gay — liking girls did.
I am not denying that stereotypes are often based in fact, or that our perceived relationship with gender and its presentation often relates to our sexual identity or orientation. Instead I am emphasizing that the two things aren’t lock and key.
Projecting homosexuality onto an individual based on their style of dress or cultural preferences isn’t totally fair. It’s the exact argument that many liberal people make against parents pushing heteronormative behavior on children. Saying, “Bobby loves Barbies and makeup. He’s probably gay,” is no different from saying, “Bobby is a boy. He should be playing with trucks, not Barbies.”
I support any efforts to promote equality for minority individuals, and I am happy when these efforts find success. CNN ran a story this week about a website launched in January called “Born This Way,” which is a photo-essay style blog containing photos of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer people as children. Site founder, Paul V., explains that the site is meant to show “that being gay is innate and it’s not a choice and these things come out in us as children.”
Paul V. also says he hopes that gay kids feel a sense of connection and a sense of worth from this project. This photo essay blog is another project which has found wings on the current winds of the It Gets Better Project. The more projects, websites, and foundations that support the health and safety of LGBTQ people, the better. I encourage everyone to check out this blog, but I also encourage you to keep in mind that while we want people to recognize that queerness is not learned, we don’t want to continue the spread the message that you can “see” gay.
Making gayness a visible, physical trait can encourage violence against those who are perceived gay, like 15-year–old Lawrence King, who was killed by a 14-year-old classmate in California for wearing makeup. It can also alienate LGBTQ people who don’t fit the stereotype of looking “gay enough.” If gayness was really a physical trait, how would we explain femme lesbians; masculine, sports loving gay men; butch straight women; effeminate, GaGa loving straight men? How do we support a transgender man who sleeps with men?
Just as we try to remind the heterosexual community that who we sleep with doesn’t change who we are, so we should remind them that whether their son is into the Golden Girls or loves football they should foster and nurture the adult he will become without deciding on his sexual orientation based on a stereotype.
Thanks to Paul V., for this great project which shows that being different as a child is OK. Also thanks to all of those who visit the site for realizing that being queer is a larger issue than just being a little boy who wants to wear a wig to church.
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